Commentary

How Search Becomes The Building Blocks For Online Services

Christopher-LienWhen engineers build a product, they often begin with a reference design or kit, which contains the building blocks for products or services. Web developers use a similar model when designing Web Services. General Motors at one time built a collaborative Web database that enables auto designers to access reference designs, allowing engineers to build on each other's ideas.

In the long term, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo will become the building block for automation and automatic identification technologies, platforms and systems, from advertising networks to automotive alerts and services.

We see it in technologies similar to Google Now. For those willing to share their life with Google, the company recently released an iOS version of the app, which taps into your calendar and other information on your phone to provide push notifications based on browsing history, schedules, weather conditions, and more.

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Search engines eventually disappear into the background and become the enabler for Web-enabled services, agrees Marin Software Founder Chris Lien. "The search engine will find the most relevant ad or content, and serve it up in the form most relevant to you," he said. "If you're on a smartphone, the app might read you the address, but show you a map with directions."

A button in my contact list or calendar on my iPhone that sits between the "Maybe" and "Decline" button would give me direct access to a map and directions based on my location. Or perhaps the 60-minute alert prior to the meeting brings up directions in addition to telling me when I must leave based on current traffic conditions to get there on time. Google Now already does some of this. Using the search as a building-block platform also builds out the respective company's developer network.

Aside from search engines, push technology will increase the ability to discover content from brand Web sites and social sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest, and through services like ReachLocal and YP.com. In the long term, changes initiated by Google's Matt Cutts such as Panda algorithmic updates will just occur.

Search engines will not disappear, but consumers will use them less often as stand-alone technology to find information. Apps like Google Now will use metadata that comes from engines, social sites and databases like YP.com to augment and serve up content. Ads will be inserted to the services based on this data and others like calendar entries. "In the scenario you mention, perhaps the ads would be related to local restaurants serving lunch or dinner," Lien said. "Or the app service might know you have a related email in your inbox and show you ads for a local store."

Marketers will walk a long road before seeing this vision come to fruition. For now, trends in the second quarter of 2013 that influence the shift and revenue increase at Marin point to the ongoing adoption of mobile and tablet use, experimentation with social media, adoption of product listing ads, and increasing investments in paid search and performance display retargeting mostly coming from offline budgets.

Companies will begin to invest more in research and development. Similar to the one-way ticket to Mars, the vision is really not as far off or as farfetched as you might think. Investors and analysts may begin to see higher losses in operating expenses as more money is pushed into research and development (R&D).

"If Dutch upstart Mars One defies the odds -- and it's a big if -- four members of the public will land on Mars in 2023," explains Wired. It wasn't too long ago that many pooh-poohed SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, which stepped into the era of space exploration. My father -- a brilliant engineer known for writing the software that sent satellites and men into space, as well as planes into flight -- said all it takes is money.

Marin released earnings last week, stating that revenue rose 32% compared with the prior year, marking the sixteenth consecutive quarter of gains. The company did take a hit on its operating expenses as it continues to invest in R&D to expand functions that measure and optimize online spending in search, display, social, and mobile.

1 comment about "How Search Becomes The Building Blocks For Online Services".
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  1. Joelle Kaufman from BloomReach, May 14, 2013 at 1:22 p.m.

    This is an exciting vision of the future. Content publishers will need to focus on presenting their most relevant, highest quality content to consumers through an expanding array of experiences. The content publishers will have to ensure it is easy for all these future applications to interpret their content and match it to the intent of the consumer they serve. It's exciting and represents a fundamental shift to a consumer-oriented strategy.

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